Great Cities With Green Solutions
The Mayor of Paris has launch a novel scheme for fighting congestion and pollution: self-service cars. He aims to start with 2,000 electric-powered vehicles that subscribers can drive off without booking at dozens of sites 24 hours a day and then leave anywhere in the city. It is intended to complement the highly successful bicycle scheme that he opened last July with 5,000 rental stations around the city. The non-polluting cars, which will cost a few euros per hour to use, depending on mileage, will enable Parisians to carry passengers and loads on short trips without the bother and expense of hiring or running their own vehicles, says the mayor. The only worry is that Parisians could drop their new-found cycling habit. He has already turned Paris into the biggest bike-friendly city in Europe, with the 20,000 machines having already been used for 11 million trips so far. The mayor, who gets around Paris in a tiny electric-powered car, has already promoted a car-sharing scheme.
China’s efforts to curb air pollution by restricting driving within Beijing city limits was quite a success, so government officials sought to extend the benefits by continuing the traffic limits. The Chinese government has taken to offering up to $3,600 to give up heavily polluting vehicles, and even giving drivers more money to purchase cleaner cars. The amount of compensation given to drivers giving up heavily polluted vehicles depends on the size, type and age of the vehicle – and payment will be prorated, so the sooner they give up the offending car, the more money they get. It’s a commendable plan, especially since it will likely raise demand for cleaner cars, giving China’s auto industry a greater incentive to build them. It’s nice to see that after years of very little action – and ever-higher greenhouse gas emissions – China is doing something real to address the problem of air pollution in Beijing.
In New Delhi comes a smart de-congestion plan - a mega carpool that harnesses the latest in technology. The Delhi government plans to launch the Pan City Mega Carpool Scheme before the Commonwealth Games 2010. The Delhi government has proposed to enroll thousands of car owners, subject to verification of their credentials, into a single mega carpool and issue the members secure, smart identity cards as well. The cars of all members will be fitted with a special hardware device comprising of a card reader, global positioning system (GPS) and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). The device can read the smart card based photo identity card of a member, sense the location of the car and transmit this data digitally to a central agency. The rider is only required to tap the smart ID card at the beginning as well as the end of the ride and all the information regarding the driver and the rider would be sent to the central server. A member of the carpool scheme may give a ride to any of the enrolled members who have a common or along-the-way travel destination. The scheme plans to reduce traffic congestion and vehicular pollution by 50 percent or more. Mega Car Pool is more than a car pool system. It is an alternative transport mode which can give you immense comfort and ease in traveling and reduce travel cost and time significantly. Mega Car Pool is your best solution to end killing road congestion and endless parking problem.
What Can we do? Drive Less. Both local and global pollution would be reduced if each car-driving person pledged to use their car 30% less starting immediately. This is a responsible, individual contribution to a global problem. At least 30% of vehicle is optional - either recreational or lazy driving when walking, cycling or public transit would be a better choice. The use of cars must be re-defined. Car use has to be considered a privilege, not a right. Recreational driving can be reduced immediately. In the immediate future reduced car use is the best solution. But changing car-users' habits doesn't seem likely any time soon, as the failure of carpool lanes in USA makes clear. Commuters can drive in this lane only if there are at least two people in the vehicle. But these lanes don't always succeed in encouraging carpooling. Basically, it didn't. It strikes as really crazy. They are willing to sit there, stuck hopelessly in traffic, for the 'luxury' of being the only person in their vehicle. All this has to change if we want to save this planet from pollution. We have to curb our craving for big cars and curtail our driving time to only essential need to drive. And one more thing, let us all salute Paris, Beijing and New Delhi, which have come up with their own unique solutions to the problem created by car pollution. These are truly great cities with green solutions.